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Coronavirus map LIVE: Vaccine breakthrough as trial drug induces rapid immune response | UK | News


Blood samples from a group of 108 vaccinated adults showed both neutralising antibodies and T-cell responses against the novel coronavirus in most of those tested,  China’s CanSino Biologics Inc reported on Friday in The Lancet medical journal. Further studies will be needed to confirm whether the vaccine protects against infection. Co-author Professor Wei Chen from the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in Beijing said: “These results represent an important milestone.

The trial demonstrates that a single dose of the new adenovirus type 5 vectored COVID-19 (Ad5-nCoV) vaccine produces virus-specific antibodies and T cells in 14 days, making it a potential candidate for further investigation”

Coronavirus deaths in the UK have risen by 350 in the last 24 hours bringing the total number of deaths from the invisible killer disease to 36,393.

Health bosses said the UK’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 351 to 36,393 as of 4pm on May 21. A total of 254,195 people had tested positive for the coronavirus as of 8am on May 22.

While the R rate remains at 0.7-1, signally no change from last week, but transmission it is still slowly decreasing.

Meanwhile, at today’s Government briefing, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced all visitors to the UK will now be required to self-isolate for two weeks, with penalties of up to £1,000 for those who fail to comply.

Vaccine China

The new vaccine induces a rapid immune response, scientists said (Image: GETTY)

It comes after India reported its biggest 24-hour rise in coronavirus cases after they eased lockdown restrictions as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to go one step further and ease the UK’s lockdown restrictions to fight COVID-19 again.

India registered some 6,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, the country’s biggest jump in 24 hours, as New Delhi eases a nationwide lockdown and airlines prepare to resume some domestic flights.

India, which has a population of 1.3 billion people, reported a total of over 118,000 confirmed cases, roughly 5 percent increase from Thursday’s figures. Included in the total are 3,583 deaths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended a lockdown, begun on March 25, to May 31, but relaxed rules in areas with lower numbers of cases and allowed state governments to issue their own guidelines on some matters.

It comes amid fears South America is fast becoming the epicentre of coronavirus as is confirm 518,498 cases and 26,599 deaths. Brazil reported 291,579 cases and 18,859 deaths as of Wednesday, while Peru has one of the fastest-growing death rates in the world. 

Meanwhile, in Chile cases of COVID-19 trebled since the start of the month, while Ecuador has also seen deaths from coronavirus rise threefold in May.

Doctors across the continent have warned the countries already-high death and confirmes cases are not showing the real picture and are not being reported because a lack of testing.

Isabella Rêllo, a doctor from a hospital in Rio de Janeiro, said: “What is happening is a huge underreporting.

“There are many more cases.”

While South Korea, which has managed to stabilise an increase in infections and is gradually reopening schools, has reported 20 new cases of coronavirus.

Nine of the cases were reported in Seoul. 

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Coronavirus latest

Coronavirus latest: Boris Johnson joins in the Clap for Carers (Image: PA)

Saturday May 23

1.30am update: Trump-backed drug 

A major study of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug used and backed by Donald Trump has suggested it could increase deaths of patients treated with it. 

Professor Mandeep R Mehra, lead author of the study and executive director of the Brigham and Women’s hospital advanced heart disease centre in Boston, US, explained:  This is the first large-scale study to find statistically robust evidence that treatment with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine does not benefit patients with Covid-19. 

“Instead, our findings suggest it may be associated with an increased risk of serious heart problems and increased risk of death. Randomised clinical trials are essential to confirm any harms or benefits associated with these agents. In the meantime, we suggest these drugs should not be used as treatments for Covid-19 outside of clinical trials.”

aleid wolfsen

Aleid Wolfsen has raised concerns over coronavirus app privacy in Europe (Image: GETTY)

1.00am update: Size of government 

Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan has used a column in Conservative Home to insist the increase in Government powers due to the pandemic should not be permanent. 

Mr Ahmad Khan wrote: Milton Friedman once stated that ‘nothing was so permanent as a temporary government programme’, words which reverberate amongst those who fear the new powers and responsibilities the state has taken on will not be given up lightly. Conservatives do not wish to let this transition become a permanent one, and have set out the relevant policies and strategies to ensure that these powers are laid down in due course.

“This is not an issue of dogmatic ideologies. Libertarians may wish for a smaller citizen-centric state, and socialists may long for a larger controlling state. But it is ultimately the Conservative Party which acknowledges that the citizen is king, and their wishes, whether they be for more or less, must be taken as the only legitimate foundation for all future policies.

“I know in Wakefield, and elsewhere, citizens called upon Boris Johnson and their Conservative representatives to protect the NHS, depart from the EU and maintain fiscal responsibility while providing first rate services.”

0.30am update: Teaching unions 

A leading teaching union has raised concerns over plans to reopen schools based on scientific advice. 

NASUWT held talks with the Department of Education this week and  general secretary Patrick Roach said: “The papers highlight the significant gaps in evidence, knowledge and understanding which remain in terms of the susceptibility of children to Covid-19 and how infectious those with mild and asymptomatic cases of the virus may be.

 “The Committee states that large-scale community testing is needed to better understand and monitor the prevalence of and susceptibility to Covid-19 in children, yet the Government’s plans for the reopening of schools from 1 June are premature whilst a widespread community testing system will not be in place.

“The Sage papers published today will only add to teachers’ uncertainty and anxiety.”

0.00am update: Privacy concerns 

Former Utrecht mayor and head of the Dutch privacy authority, Aleid Wolfsen has raised concerns over the privacy protection in apps European governments are using to aide the coronavirus fight. 

Mr Wolfsen explained:  “We must avoid deploying a solution that is unclear whether it actually works, with the risk that it will mainly cause other problems.” 

He warned using telecoms data to track illness spread could never be truly anonymous. 

Friday May 22

donald trump

Donald Trump has called for places of worship to reopen (Image: GETTY)

11.30pm update: Trump threatens to override Governors 

US President Donald Trump has threatened to override Governors as he called on states to allow places of worship to reopen. 

In a statement to reporters, Trump implored:  “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now.

“By this weekend.

“If they don’t do it I will override the governors.” 

He explained churches, mosques and synagogues will be declared essential services. 

11.00pm update: Hotel impact 

During the first quarter of 2020, an estimated two-thirds of Hong Kong hotel rooms sat empty according to Colliers’ Asia Hotel report. 

Michael Li, executive director of The Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, told South China Morning Post the hit was worse than the 2003 SARS outbreak. 

He added:  “With no tourist arrivals, hotel operators had to undertake a price war to fight for guests, but a lot of rooms are still sitting empty.”

10.30pm update: George Soros warning

Hungarian financier and hedge fund manager George Soros has warned the EU might not survive coronavirus in a question and answer briefing sent to reporters. 

Mr Soros said:  “If the EU is unable to consider it now, it may not be able to survive the challenges it currently confronts.

 “This is not a theoretical possibility; it may be the tragic reality.”

The 89-year-old called for perpetual bonds to allow the EU to survive. 

Gursimran Hans has taken over live reporting from Ciaran McGrath. 

9pm update: Labour calls for Number 10 to explain Cummings reports

Labour has demanded a “very swift explanation” from Downing Street over reports that Boris Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings broke the Government’s lockdown rules.

The Mirror reported that he was spotted at his parents’ home in Durham when he was recovering from Covid-19, after travelling from his London home.

A Labour spokesman said: “If accurate, the Prime Minister’s chief adviser appears to have breached the lockdown rules. The Government’s guidance was very clear: stay at home and no non-essential travel.

“The British people do not expect there to be one rule for them and another rule for Dominic Cummings. Number 10 needs to provide a very swift explanation for his actions.”

8.58pm update: Dominic Cummings investigated by police after breaking Boris Johnson’s lockdown rules

Boris Johnson’s top aide Dominic Cummings was investigated by police after breaking coronavirus lockdown rules.

Dominic Cummings was investigated by the police after breaching the Government’s own lockdown rules, according to reports.

The Prime Minister’s top adviser was spotted at his parents’ home in Durham – more than 250 miles away from his home in London – days after he was said to have started self-isolating.

An investigation by the Mirror and the Guardian said Mr Cummings was in the North of England, instead of isolating in London.

7.47pm update: Testing visitors would not work, says Vallance

Testing visitors to Britain for coronavirus would not circumvent the fresh requirement for them to quarantine for 14 days after their arrival, the chief scientific adviser has suggested.

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced on Friday that self-isolation periods of two weeks will be imposed on new arrivals to the UK from June 8, with fines for anyone who breaches the measure designed to prevent new waves of coronavirus from overseas.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing on Covid-19, Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser, said test results were not conclusive enough to catch every case of coronavirus.

He explained that the swab tests being used were not able to decipher whether someone was in the early stages of having contracted coronavirus, a period when those carrying the virus are likely to be asymptomatic.

6.49pm update: 115 more coronvirus cases in Ireland

Ireland has recorded 115 new coronavirus cases, making a total of 24,506, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said. 

The death toll has risen to 1,592 after a further 11 deaths were announced by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

6.32pm update: French cases spike by almost 400

The total number of COVID-19 cases in France has increased from 144,163 to  144,556, the French Government has confirmed.

6.22pm update: Ports boss voices quarantine concerns

Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, has outlined his worries about the Government’s new quarantine rules for visitors to the UK.

Mr Ballantyne, speaking after Home Secretary Priti Patel led the Government’s daily briefing, said: “Quarantine rules could slow recovery and kill off any opportunity of a summer recovery for passenger travel and tourism.

“We are pleased that freight workers and Irish routes are excluded from the rules, but now Ministers must put exemptions in place for other transit corridors such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain.

“Establishing ‘sea bridges’ with neighbouring European countries where the risk is low must be a high priority and the focus should not just be on aviation which has more complicated challenges.”

5.50pm update: Border Force chief pledges spot checks

Also speaking at the briefing, Paul Lincoln, Border Force director general, said spot checks would be carried out on the accuracy of quarantine forms of those arriving into the UK from abroad.

He said: “At the border there will be spot checks conducted by Border Force officers.

“Any obvious errors will trigger a requirement for the passenger to complete another form or potentially be refused entry into the UK.”

Mr Lincoln said the Border Force expected most people to comply with the measures but the agency was ready to act in cases where the rules were not followed.

He added: “Given the high levels of compliance to date, we expect the vast majority of people will take this seriously and do the right thing.

“We will, however, take enforcement action against a small minority of people who may disregard these actions and therefore further endanger people’s lives.”

5.47pm update: If quarantine was needed it should have been introduced earlier, says Labour’s Thomas-Symonds

Responding to news of the Government’s new quarantine measures, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “Labour supports these measures but is clear they are no substitute for a long-term, well thought through approach.

“The Government’s handling of arrivals into the UK has lacked urgency, coherence and clarity from the outset.

“If quarantine is needed, it should not have taken so long for measures to be introduced. Too little thought has been given to testing and screening at airports.

“Far greater transparency is needed and the scientific evidence underpinning this decision should be made public.”

5.38pm update: “If we move to fast we’ll get a second peak,” warns Sir Patrick

Sir Patrick emphasised the ongoing importance of social distancing to prevent a second peak.

He said: “This peak is an artificial peak, it’s a peak that we managed to suppress by the things that you have all done, we have all done to adhere to social distancing.

“The risk is that if we move too fast and do things in the wrong way, we get a second peak that would look exactly the same, and that’s what we’ve got to avoid.”

He added: “As some of the rules around this are relaxed, it’s important that we do maintain the social distancing and we do maintain the rules around distance between people and our interactions.”

5.32pm update: R number stable, says Sir Patrick Vallance

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told the briefing the R Number – which denotes the rate of infection – was currently between 0.7 and 1, meaning the epidemic in the UK was “either flat or declining”.

The number of new infections was about 61,000 per week at the moment, roughly one in 1,000 people, Sir Patrick added.

Sir Patrick Vallance

Sir Patrick Vallance speaks at the briefing (Image: BBC)

5.28pm update: Plan will be reviewed every three weeks, says Patel

Ministers would work to “find new ways to reopen international travel and tourism in a safe and responsible way”, Home Secretary Priti Patel pledged.

She said: “We also recognise how hard these changes will be for our travel sector, and leisure sectors, who are already struggling through these unprecedented times.

“So, across Government, we will continue to work with them and support what is an incredibly dynamic sector to find new ways to reopen international travel and tourism in a safe and responsible way.”

Ms Patel said the plan will be reviewed every three weeks.

5.20pm update: Quarantine comes at a time when it will be “the most effective”

Ms Patel said she was imposing quarantine plans for new arrivals at the time “it will be the most effective”.

She added: “The answer as to why we’re bringing in these measures now is simple: It is to protect that hard-won progress and prevent a devastating resurgence in a second wave of the virus.

“As we are taking this action, we are taking it at a time that it will be the most effective.”

She said that passenger arrivals have been down 99 percent compared to the previous year but now the peak has passed, steps to “guard against imported cases” needed to be imposed.

5.15pm Stiff penalty for anyone breaching quarantine rules

Anyone caught breaking the 14-day quarantine rule could face a fine of £1,000, Ms Patel warned.

Penalties could rise still further if the rate of infection from abroad increases.

5.11pm update: Visitors to UK will be required to self-isolate for two weeks

Anyone arriving in the UK from 8 June 8 will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, Ms Patel said.

She explained there was a risk people visiting the UK over the summer or returning from overseas holidays might bring the virus with them.

Imported cases could pose a “larger threat” going forward, she says, with action is needed to manage the risk of transmission.

Arrivals from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will be exempt,as will medical professional helping to treat the virus and seasonal agricultural workers staying on the farms where they are working.

5.04pm update: Patel leads daily briefing

Home Secretary Priti Patel is leading today’s daily coronavirus briefing.

Priti Patel

Priti Patel gets the briefing underway (Image: BBC)

4.58pm update: Drug touted by Trimp tied to increased risk of death in COVID-19 patients

The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which US President Donald Trump says he has been taking and has urged others to use, was tied to increased risk of death in hospitalised COVID-19 patients, according to a large study published in the medical journal Lancet.

In the study, which looked at over 96,000 people hospitalised with COVID-19, those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death than patients who were not given the medicines.

The authors said they could not confirm if taking the drug resulted in any benefit in coronavirus patients.

They wrote: “Urgent confirmation from randomised clinical trials is needed. This study was not a placebo-controlled trial.

4.52pm update: UK death toll passes 45,000

The number of deaths involving COVID-19 in the UK has passed 45,000, according to the latest available data.

Figures published on Friday by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency showed that 664 deaths involving COVID-19 had been registered in Northern Ireland up to May 20.

On Wednesday, figures from the National Records of Scotland showed 3,546 deaths involving COVID-19 had been registered in Scotland up to May 17.

And the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, published on Tuesday, showed 39,071 deaths involving COVID-19 occurred in England and Wales up to May 8 (and had been registered up to May 16).

Together, these figures mean that so far 43,281 deaths have been registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

A further 1,832 hospital patients in England who had tested positive for COVID-19 died between May 9 and May 21, according to figures published on Friday by NHS England.

Together with the total figure of 43,281 registered deaths, this indicates the overall death toll for the UK is now just over 45,000.

4.36pm update: Don’t take risks, urges Foster

Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s First Minister, has urged the public to guard against complacency ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

Ms Foster told the Executive’s daily media briefing: “In the absence of a vaccine, the threat from coronavirus is no less than it was when we had to implement the lockdown.

“COVID-19 is still lurking. It thrives when people become complacent and it spreads when people become blase about public health advice, and it kills when people start acting as if the threat is no longer with us.”

“The key to the lifting of more restrictions is by being sensible.”

Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster has urged people not to take risks (Image: GETTY)

4.28pm update: Spain’s total cases top 234,000

Spain total number of confirmed coronavirus cases now stands at 234,824, up from 233,037 yesterday, according to the country’s health ministry.

The death toll rose by 56 to 28,628 over the same period.

4.24pm update: Enough’s enough, urges woman who started “clap for carers”

The architect of the weekly “clap for carers” gesture has said next Thursday’s show of support should be the last, amid concerns the event has become politicised.

Annemarie Plas, a Dutch national living in South London, said she was “overwhelmed” by the support for the cacophonous ritual, but said it was better to stop when it was at “its peak”.

She said: “I think it’s good to have the last of the series next Thursday, because to have the most impact I think it is good to stop it at its peak.

“Without getting too political, I share some of the opinions that some people have about it becoming politicised.

“I think the narrative is starting to change and I don’t want the clap to be negative.”

4.18pm update: Children half as likely to catch COVID-19, study suggests

Children could be half as likely to catch coronavirus as adults and teachers do not appear to be at greater risk than other professions, according to new evidence.

The research emerged on Friday in papers assessing the impact of relaxing school closures from the Goverment’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

Teaching unions and some councils have spoken out against the Government’s plans to begin a phased reopening of schools in England on June 1.

A review of global studies led by University College London found those aged under 20 had 56 percent less chance of being infected.

Children coronavirus

Children are significantly less likely to contract coronavirus, the study indicates (Image: GETTY)

4.03pm update: Ikea poised to reopen 19 stories

Ikea is set to reopen 19 stores across England and Northern Ireland, making it the latest big-name chain to announce plans to welcome back customers.

The stores are set to start reopening from June 1 and social distancing wardens will patrol stores to help shoppers and ensure they keep their distance.

But families will be banned, with Ikea saying it will allow one adult and one child per household inside the store at any one point.

The 19 stores reopening are Croydon, Greenwich, Lakeside, Wembley, Tottenham, Norwich collection point, Birmingham, Nottingham, Belfast, Manchester, Warrington, Gateshead, Leeds, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Reading, Southampton, Bristol and Exeter.

3.50pm update: Bank Holiday shutdown means pubs will miss out on sale of 10 million pints

Pubs will miss out on sales of 10 million extra pints of beer over the bank holiday weekend because of the continued lockdown, it has been estimated.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said pubs would have been packed on a normal late May Bank Holiday, with good weather forecast, and the FA Cup final usually held on the Saturday.

The trade body noted that pubs were the first businesses to be ordered to shut down by the Government in March and could be among the last to re-open.

The BBPA said not all pubs will reopen from July as many won’t be able to meet the social distancing measures required by then.

2.54pm update: Tributes paid to ‘fiercely proud’ NHS nurse

A “fiercely proud” nurse who died after contracting coronavirus had been working to keep his colleagues safe.

Joselito Habab, known as Jo, died at Whiston Hospital on Wednesday with his wife Michelle, an A and E nurse, by his side, a spokesman for Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said.

The father-of-one, originally from Manila in the Philippines, joined the trust almost 18 years ago.

He worked as a staff nurse in trauma and orthopaedics until 2011 when he became a clinical nurse educator and was awarded employee of the month.

2.50pm update: Easing two metre social distancing under review 

Easing the two-metre social distancing rule will continue to be kept under investigation, public health leaders have said.

Public Health England’s medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle told MPs that the UK had taken a “cautionary” approach to introducing the rule when other countries were using shorter distances.

She told the Science and Technology Select Committee on Friday that until more is known about how coronavirus is transmitted, the two-metre rule was “important”.

But when asked why the UK had decided on two metres when other countries like France, China and Hong Kong advised one metre, she said it will continue to be reviewed to see if it can be reduced.

She added: “We are aware of the international differences and I am sure this will be the subject of continued investigation as to whether two metres is actually necessary or whether that can be reduced further.”

READ MORE: Scientist warns it is ‘unlikely’ one drug will be effective on its own

coronavirus news

The UK’s stages for easing the lockdown (Image: EXPRESS)

2.40pm update: Ikea to reopen stores

Ikea is set reopen 19 stores across England and Northern Ireland from June 1 with a new series of safety measures to ensure social distancing, the retailer has announced.

The homewares chain said social distancing wardens will patrol the store and the number of customers would be limited. Stores in Scotland, Wales and Ireland will remain closed, in line with Government coronavirus guidance.

2.31pm update: Sturgeon lockdown roadmap attacked

Nicola oadmap out of Scotland’s lockdown resrictions have been criticised as “confusing” after the Scottish First Minister broke away from the UK-wide strategy to fight the coronavirus crisis.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined a four-phase path out of the lockdown to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, with the first beginning on May 28, earlier this week.

Julia Hartley-Brewer posted on Twitter: “But, but… it’s so CONFUSING.”

2.23pm update: Wales coronavirus death toll

Public Health Wales said a further seven people have died after testing positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths in Wales to 1,254.

Another 138 people have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 12,984.

2.14pm update: UK death toll rises 351

The UK’s death toll from confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose by 351 to 36,393 as of 4pm on May 21, the health ministry said.

A total of 254,195 people had tested positive for the coronavirus as of 8am on May 22.

coronavirus latest

People are urged to follow two metre social distancing rules (Image: GETTY )

1.24pm update: Downing Street warning ahead of Bank Holiday

Downing Street has urged the public to “continue to abide by the social distancing rules” ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend.

It follows reports that beaches and beauty spots have been packed as the temperature has increased.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “All of the anecdotal evidence suggests that the vast majority of the public are still following the rules.

“And by doing so are helping to save lives and we thank them for that.

“We recognise the sacrifices which the public are making but as we head into the long weekend we must all renew our efforts and continue to abide by the social distancing rules.”

12.28pm update: Spain eases lockdown restrictions

Lockdown restrictions to fight COVID-19 have been eased in Madrid.

12.20pm update: Fury over ‘Clap for Nic’ campaign 

Fury has erupted after a ‘Clap for Nic’ campaign was launched to applaud Nicola Sturgeon for her efforts during the coronavirus outbreak.

Supporters of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon are calling for people to clap between 6pm and 6.10pm tonight in tribute to the Scottish National Party leader for how she has handled the coronavirus crisis and “for not being bullied by Westminster”.

But critics of Ms Sturgeon have reacted in outrage, saying the SNP’s management of the COVID-19 crisis has been “shambles” and said they would not be joining the cla

Furious Twitter users took to the social media site to express their disgust at the plans for ‘Clap for Nic’.

coronavirus latest

Downing Street urged Britons to follow social distancing rules over the Bank Holiday (Image: PA)

11.59am update: Visa extensions granted to overseas nationals 

Overseas nationals who cannot return home due to the coronavirus pandemic will be granted visa extensions until the end of July.

This will apply to anyone whose leave expired after January 24 and cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation, the Home Office said.

But those currently in the UK on temporary visas, such as visitor visas, should return home as soon as it is safe and possible to do so, the department added.

It said: “Those who contact the Home Office for these visa extensions will be expected to return to their home countries as soon as possible once flight and border restrictions are lifted.”

People affected needed to contact a coronavirus immigration team which has been set up, by using an online form.

They added: “No immigration enforcement action will be undertaken during this time” for those who contact the team to notify them their visa has expired.

Some requirements on visa sponsors, like rules for non-EU nationals in the country for work or study, have also been waived.

11.15am update: Scientists launch new challenge on Boris Johnson’s June return date

A former chief scientific adviser has said keeping children out of school for an extra two weeks could halve their risk of contracting coronavirus.

10.54am update: PM faces rebellion over coronavirus lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a potential cabinet uprising over his lockdown easing strategy.

While the Prime Minister favours a cautious approach to allowing people get back to normal, the majority of ministers support a “back to work” initiative in June.

If the country does not see an unexpected increase in the number of new coronavirus cases over the next 10 days, Mr Johnson’s close circle want him to reopen as many businesses as possible, The Daily Telegraph reports.

10.32am update: Children half as likely to catch coronavirus

Children and young people could be half as likely to catch coronavirus than adults, a scientific review of studies worldwide has found.

Those aged under 20 were 56 percent less likely to contract SARS-CoV-2, the official name of the new coronavirus which causes the disease Covid-19, from an infected person, the researchers said.

But the analysis of global test and tracing and population screening studies led by University College London (UCL) found the evidence “remains weak” on the likelihood that children transmit the virus. 

coronavirus latest

A desserted London during the coronavirus lockdown (Image: PA)

10.20am update: Police issues ‘don’t be an idiot’ warning ahead of bank holiday

A Chief Constable has issued a “don’t be an idiot” warning ahead of the bank holiday weekend after his officers were forced to break up a 100-strong street party.

Footage of people gathering in Handsworth, Birmingham, on Wednesday night, with one reveller asking officers if Covid-19 was real, has been released by West Midlands Police.

The force’s Chief Constable, Dave Thompson, re-tweeted the footage with a message stating: “I commend the amazing, patient work of officers in this footage.

“It’s what we have seen day in day out.”

Pointing out that similar behaviour could spread coronavirus and also divert officers from other work, Mr Thompson added: “Don’t be an idiot this weekend.”

8.42am update: Policeman attacked by mob for investigating social distancing 

A police officer has been taken to hospital after being attacked by a group of youths he was investigating for a possible breach of COVID-19 guidelines.

Surrey police say a lone officer was called to West Byfleet Park outside south-west London at 7.40pm after a report a group of young males were potentially contravening social distancing guidelines.

The officer was attacked while engaging with the men, and was taken to hospital with minor injuries to the wrist and head.

Police say three people – one adult and two juveniles – were arrested a short time later and taken into custody.

Any witnesses should call 101 quoting PR/ 45200052505.

coronavirus latest

Coronavirus latest: People in London head out as coronavirus restrictions are eased (Image: PA)

7.43am update: Next phase of testing to begin in older adults 

The next phase of coronavirus vaccine testing will focus on the immune response in older adults, the director of the Oxford University vaccine group said.

Professor Andrew Pollard told BBC Breakfast the first phase of the testing looked at the vaccine’s safety in people aged under 55.

Speaking about the next steps in the trials, he said: “Now we are looking at whether older adults have a similar immune response, then looking at those in the front line.

“There are two groups, the first are those over the age of 55, and they are divided into those being 55 and 70, and those who are over 70.

“And in that group we are looking very closely at immune responses, particularly in the oldest adults where often immune responses are a bit weaker than in younger adults.”

7.32am update: Next phases begin in vaccine trial 

Southampton researchers have begun recruiting volunteers for the next two phases in clinical trials they hope could bring a coronavirus vaccine this year.

Scientists at University Hospital Southampton (UHS) and the University of Southampton want to recruit up to 10,260 people from the area to trial the vaccine, the university said in a statement.

Work began in January on the vaccine, which uses a virus taken from chimpanzees and has been developed by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group.

The first phase of trialling involved 160 health volunteers between 18 and 55.

Phases II and III involve vastly increasing the number of volunteers while expanding the age range to include older adults and children.

coronavirus latest

Coronavirus testing is being increased (Image: PA)

7.24am update: India reports biggest 24-hour rise in virus cases as lockdown eases

India registered some 6,000 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, the country’s biggest jump in 24 hours, as New Delhi eases a nationwide lockdown and airlines prepare to resume some domestic flights.

The country of 1.3 billion people reported a total of over 118,000 confirmed cases on Friday, a roughly 5 percent increase from Thursday’s figures. Included in the total are 3,583 deaths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended a lockdown, begun on March 25, to May 31, but relaxed rules in areas with lower numbers of cases and allowed state governments to issue their own guidelines on some matters.

7.18am update: UK extends COVID-19 mortgage payment holiday by three months

Britain has extended its mortgage payment holiday scheme for homeowners in financial difficulty during the coronavirus pandemic for another three months.

The Treasury said over 1.8 million mortgage payment holidays had been taken up from a scheme that was launched in March.

Homeowners still struggling financially could also have the option of making reduced payments.

John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury said in a statement: “Everyone’s circumstances will be different, so when homeowners can pay some or all of their mortgage, they should work with their lender on a plan; but if they are still struggling, I want them to know that help is there.”



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Here are the government’s biggest failures in the coronavirus response



WASHINGTON — We’ve seen the U.S. government fail several times over the last 20 years – the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, the debt-ceiling debacle, the government shutdowns.

But history will likely be most unkind of all to the federal government’s initial response to the novel coronavirus over the last two months.

Let’s count the ways the whole federal government has failed to date, starting at the very top.

1. President Trump at first downplayed the coronavirus, and then he later sent mixed messages about it.

2. Trump and his administration saw the virus – and initially reacted to it – primarily as an immigration/travel/border issuerather than a health one.

3. Trump consistently attacked critical Democrats (like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and most recently Sen. Chuck Schumer), while he singled out Republicans for praise.

4. The administration didn’t heed classified warnings from the intelligence community — back in January and February — about the dangers the coronavirus posed for the global community.

5. The administration, in 2018, disbanded its National Security Council pandemic team.

6. The administration eliminated a CDC job dedicated to detecting outbreaks in China.

7. The Department of Homeland Security, which plays a vital role in responding to disasters, remains staffed with an acting secretary, an acting chief of staff, an acting general counsel and a vacancy at deputy secretary.

8. The Centers for Disease Control’s initial coronavirus test failed, resulting in a lost month to combat the virus.

9. The Food and Drug Administration’s requirements stymied university labs from conducting tests

10. The government’s emergency stockpile of respirator masks, gloves and other medical supplies is nearly depleted.

And in just the past day, we learned…

11. Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, who is helping to lead the effort to replenish supplies of personal protective equipment, admitted that the administration is delivering products it acquires to medical supply companies – rather than delivering them directly to the hospitals in need, per NBC’s Geoff Bennett. (Bottom line: The federal government is not taking over the supply chain.)

12. The U.S. Navy relieved the captain who sounded the alarm about an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

13. The Federal Emergency Management Agency officials told Congress that the projected demand for ventilators required for coronavirus-stricken patients “outstrips the capacity” of the Strategic National Stockpile.

14. And as NBC News has reported, it wasn’t until Thursday night that banks received their 31 pages of guidance from the Treasury Department on how to lend the money in the $350 billion small-business relief program — and some banks haven’t even decided whether they can participate on the opening day.

Many of these failures — see the Top 4 on this list — can be traced directly to the president, but the rest have so many other fingerprints on them.

How many of those failures were due to poor leadership at the very top? How many were systemic? A combination of the two?

Americans 40 years and older have seen this country’s government do big things — go to the moon, expand civil rights, end the Cold War, help build the internet, combat AIDS.

But if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’ve mostly seen the government fail again and again.

And the government’s response to the coronavirus – just two months into the crisis — is the biggest failure of all.

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Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

245,135: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 28,907 more than yesterday morning.)

5,916: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,082 more than yesterday morning).

1.29 million: The number of coronavirus TESTS that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

701,000: That’s the number of jobs the U.S. economy lost in March, according to the Labor Department’s latest report.

3.5 million: The number of Americans who have likely lost employer-based health insurance, according to a study from the Economic Policy Institute.

75: The number of inmates at facilities run by the Bureau of Prisons who have tested positive for the virus

31: The number of pages of guidance that lenders received last night from the Treasury Department on how to administer small business aid, leading some to say they aren’t ready to start accepting applications

Nearly half: The number of states that currently lack funds to pay out unemployment claims.

About 13 percent: A guess at the current unemployment rate, according to one new estimate.

Another week and a half: How long it will take the first Americans to start receiving stimulus checks, which are now expected to start rolling out the week of April 13.

Democrats postpone their convention to August. What else will they change?

“The Democratic National Committee is postponing its summer convention in Milwaukee over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic,” per NBC News.

More: “The four-day convention, set to take place in Milwaukee beginning July 13, will now take place the week of August 17.”

Our question: What ELSE might Democratic convention planners change? Will there be an arena of packed delegates? Or will it be held virtually?

2020 Vision: Judge keeps Wisconsin’s election on track for April 7 — but with some changes

“A federal judge Thursday kept next week’s presidential primary on track but allowed more time to count absentee ballots after excoriating Wisconsin officials for not doing more to protect voters during the coronavirus pandemic,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.

“The ruling — which was immediately appealed — will allow absentee ballots to be counted if they arrive by April 13, six days after election day. U.S. District Judge William Conley also gave people until Friday to request absentee ballots and loosened a rule requiring absentee voters to get the signature of a witness.”

Ad watch from NBC’s Ben Kamisar

Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines is up with a new ad playing up his role in the congressional coronavirus response, employing a strategy to similar other incumbents who are leaning on their official work to prove to their constituents that they deserve to stay in office.

But Daines has to contend with a dynamic that many incumbents facing reelection do not — his opponent, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, is at the helm of the state’s closely-watched response.

And while Bullock certainly faces political pressure to deliver (to say nothing about the more important issue of doing right by his state during a pivotal time), governors often see their favorability rating skyrocket during crises, as long as their constituents believe they’re responding well.

So with Daines’ campaign having already booked more than $100,000 in broadcast time through the end of the month, according to Advertising Analytics, Montanans may be seeing a lot more of that message —centered on Daines’ push for things like paid leave, financial relief and expanding testing — as the nation continues to confront the virus, and as Democrats have hit him on health care in their own ads.

Oversight this

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday the creation of a House Select Committee on the coronavirus crisis chaired by Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn. According to Pelosi, the panel will provide oversight on the coronavirus relief legislation and it will have subpoena.

“It would have subpoena power that’s for sure, it is no use having a committee unless you have subpoena power. We would hope that there would be cooperation because this is not an investigation of the administration – it is about the whole – there are things that are so new and the rest and we want to make sure there are not exploiters out there,” Pelosi said on Thursday.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded to the committee creation saying that he thinks it isn’t the time to create new committees.

“I have a couple of concerns about this. One who she is naming: Clyburn is concerning to me because Congressman Clyburn is the one who thought this crisis was an opportune time to restructure government. That’s not what we should be doing. We should be taking care of the American public keeping our economy strong and moving forward. The other concern that I have the standpoint is inside the bills that we passed we did put in oversight and this seems really redundant,” McCarthy said.

The Lid: What’s up, Wisconsin?

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we explained the big controversy over Wisconsin’s not-budging primary date.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

Politico reports on how Bernie Sanders’ fortunes have been reversed in Wisconsin.

Jonathan Allen looks at how Joe Biden is avoiding a bombastic approach in attacking Trump during the crisis.

A Senate committee’s probe into Hunter Biden is still moving forward.

Problems with Florida’s unemployment system are making Republicans jittery about Trump’s ability to hold the state in November.

The New York Times talks to congressional candidates who don’t have health insurance.



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Mexican president claims rivals would take over if he self-isolated, as experts decry coronavirus response


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Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has remained steadfast against sweeping restriction measures that could help the spread of the coronavirus in his country.

This weekend, he balked at the idea of self-isolating, claiming that his rivals would use that time to overpower him politically and take control of the government.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives at his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, early, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives at his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, early, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
(AP)

“Do you know what the conservatives want? For me to isolate myself (but) there would be no leadership (of the country) or there would be their leadership because in politics there are no power vacuums – the voids are filled and that’s what they want, for there to be a vacuum so that they can take control … in an irresponsible way,” he said Sunday, according to the Mexico Daily News.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

The 66-year-old president has sparked a furor in recent weeks for not imposing stricter measures against COVID-19 and hugging followers and saying religious medals would protect him.

He flew commercial to the western state of Sinaloa on Sunday, where he shook hands with residents, including the mother of convicted drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera.

“Coronavirus isn’t the plague,’’ the president declared in a video message on social media.

“Those of us who have an important function, a basic one, can go out to the street and work. … You can’t close a tortilla shop, doctors and nurses have to keep working, the police [too] so that there are no robberies,” he said.

A bus commuter wears a face mask amid the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico's government has broadened its shutdown of “non essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 

A bus commuter wears a face mask amid the spread of the new coronavirus in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico’s government has broadened its shutdown of “non essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 
(AP)

Mexico has only just started taking tougher measures, including late Monday night banning non-essential work in the public sector and gatherings of more than 50 people.

As of Wednesday morning, Mexico had reported more than 1,200 confirmed cases and at least 27 deaths.

MEXICO’S LÓPEZ OBRADOR SHAKES HANDS WITH MOTHER OF ‘EL CHAPO’ DESPITE CORONAVIRUS WARNINGS, VIDEO SHOWS

Some experts warn the sprawling country of 129 million is acting too late and that the government figures likely underestimate the true number of infections.

A woman walks past a sign that reads in Spanish "Stay home" in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico's government has broadened its shutdown of "non-essential activities," and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 

A woman walks past a sign that reads in Spanish “Stay home” in Mexico City, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Mexico’s government has broadened its shutdown of “non-essential activities,” and prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people as a way to help slow down the spread of the new coronavirus. The one-month emergency measures will be in effect from March 30 to April 30. 
(AP)

Mexico has done far less testing than many other countries — around 10,000 tests. New York state alone had performed more than 205,000 tests by Tuesday. There were also signs the disease may be far more advanced in Mexico than the limited testing shows. Three state governors have already tested positive for coronavirus.

“Politics is very, very much involved in the decision-making going on right now,” said Janine Ramsey, an infectious disease expert who works for Mexico’s National Public Health Institute, a federal research agency, and has spent 35 years of her public health career in Mexico.

“Mexico, politically, does not value scientific evidence. Why? Because it takes decision-making away from the politicians,” Ramsey said.

The Mexican government has defended its policies, saying that its robust health surveillance system gives it a good idea of how the epidemic is evolving and that health experts are charting the country’s fight against the virus. Its focus now, it says, is keeping people at home to avoid a rapid spread that would quickly overwhelm the health care system.

“For most of us, especially those of us who work with infectious pathogens, there is absolutely no excuse not to test because you cannot predict a) the response, b) the velocity of transmission, or c) the vulnerability of people” to becoming infected or to infecting others, she said.

“February and March is when we should have been testing everybody.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

But many are taking their cues from the president himself, who had this to say at a news conference Tuesday: “Soon, very soon there’s going to be the day of hugs and kisses in all the public plazas.”

“We’re going to hug because we’re going to overcome this coronavirus crisis and the economic crisis and the social welfare crisis,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Iran defends its virus response, citing economic concerns


TEHRAN, IRAN —
Iran’s president on Sunday lashed out at criticism of the country’s lagging response to the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, saying the government has to weigh economic concerns as it takes measures to contain the pandemic.

Hassan Rouhani said authorities had to consider the effect of mass quarantine efforts on Iran’s beleaguered economy, which is under heavy U.S. sanctions. It’s a dilemma playing out across the globe, as leaders struggle to strike a balance between restricting human contact and keeping their economies from crashing.

“Health is a principle for us, but the production and security of society is also a principle for us,” Rouhani said at a Cabinet meeting. “We must put these principles together to reach a final decision.”

“This is not the time to gather followers,” he added. “This is not a time for political war.”

Even before the pandemic, Rouhani was under fire for the unraveling of the 2015 nuclear deal he concluded with the United States and other world powers. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement and has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran that prevent it from selling oil on international markets. Iran has rejected U.S. offers of humanitarian aid.

State TV on Sunday reported another 123 deaths, pushing Iran’s overall toll to 2,640 amid 38,309 confirmed cases.

Most people suffer only minor symptoms, such as fever and coughing, and recover within a few weeks. But the virus can cause severe illness and death, especially in elderly patients or those with underlying health problems. It is highly contagious, and can be spread by those showing no symptoms.

In recent days, Iran has ordered the closure of nonessential businesses and banned travel between cities. But those measures came long after other countries in the region imposed more sweeping lockdowns. Many Iranians are still flouting orders to stay home in what could reflect widespread distrust of authorities.

Iran has urged the international community to lift sanctions and is seeking a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Elsewhere in the region, Qatar reported its first death from the new coronavirus late Saturday, saying the total number of reported cases there was at least 590.

The tiny, energy-rich nation said it flew 31 Bahrainis stranded in Iran into Doha on a state-run Qatar Airways flight. But since Bahrain is one of four Arab countries that have been boycotting Qatar in a political dispute since 2017, Doha said it could not fly the 31 onward to the island kingdom.

“Bahraini officials have said they will send a flight for them at some undefined point in the future,” the Qatari government said in a statement.

Bahrain said it planned a flight Sunday to pick up the stranded passengers. The kingdom said it had its own repatriation flights scheduled for those still stuck in Iran and warned Qatar that it “should stop interfering with these flights.”

In Egypt, at least 1,200 Sudanese are stranded at the border after Sudan closed all its crossings, according to Egyptian officials at one of the crossings. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.

Sudan, which is still reeling from the uprising that toppled President Omar al-Bashir last year, has five confirmed cases, including one fatality. It’s one of several countries in the region where the health care system has been degraded by years of war and sanctions. Authorities closed the borders to prevent any further spread.

Sudan’s Information Minister Faisal Saleh said Sudanese authorities are looking for lodging in Egypt for the stranded passengers. He said authorities have quarantined at least 160 undocumented migrants who were sent into Sudan from war-torn Libya earlier this month.

Residents in Egypt’s southern city of Luxor say they are providing shelter to the stranded Sudanese.

“We have provided food and medicine to the Sudanese brothers,” said Mahmoud Abdel-Rahim, a local farmer. “People hosted women, children and elders in their homes.”

Egypt, which has reported 576 cases and 36 fatalities, imposed restrictions on cash deposits and withdrawals to prevent crowding at banks as payrolls and pensions are disbursed. Authorities began imposing a nighttime curfew last week.

——

Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Samy Magdy in Cairo and Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem contributed.



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UK coronavirus response: What does Britain know that Europe doesn’t?


Flanked by the country’s chief scientific and medical advisers, the Prime Minister announced that his government was moving to the “delay” phase of its plan to tackle the outbreak, and warned Britons that they were facing their “worst public health crisis for a generation” and should be prepared “to lose loved ones before their time.”

And yet, faced with such grave prospects, would the UK be taking the same stringent precautions as other affected countries? No, was the answer. At least not for now.

The British government has repeatedly said it does not believe that banning large-scale gatherings and closing schools — like Italy, France, Germany and Spain have done — would be effective in preventing the spread of the disease.

This comes despite the fact that parts of the British Isles, including the Republic of Ireland and Scotland (which is in the UK but has a separate healthcare system), are now emulating their continental neighbors.

However, with Johnson under pressure to do the same, the government said late on Friday it was planning to publish emergency legislation to ban large events.

“Ministers are working with the chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer on our plan to stop various types of public event, including mass gatherings, beginning next week,” a Whitehall source told PA Media.

“We are also talking to businesses and other bodies about the timing of moving towards much more widespread working from home.

“We have drafted emergency legislation to give the government the powers it needs to deal with coronavirus, including powers to stop mass gatherings and compensate organizations.”

The reason the UK has held off stricter “social distancing” measures appears to be rooted in the government’s prediction that the outbreak may not peak until 14 weeks from now — and that people will not be willing to drastically alter their ways of life and stick to the new rules for over three months, so there’s little point imposing more restrictions just yet.

The latest recommendation for Britons is to self-isolate for seven days if they begin to experience a persistent cough or high temperature, and to continue with rigorous hygiene like frequently washing their hands and disinfecting surfaces.

Government ministers claim their decisions are being led purely by science. That science, they say, currently suggests that it would be beneficial for the country to build up some sort of herd immunity to the novel coronavirus strain in the long run. In short, authorities do want some Britons to get the bug, especially since for many, its symptoms will not be particularly debilitating.

The approach has divided opinion in the medical community. Some experts have accused Johnson of failing to grasp the severity of the situation, while others have praised the government for refusing to bow to continent-wide pressure to clamp down on the public’s movements.

As of Friday, the number of confirmed cases in the UK stood at 798, with 10 deaths. However, the government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance has admitted it was possible that 5,000 to 10,000 people may already be infected. And with testing capacity now about to be ramped up to 10,000 people a day, numbers will surely rise.

Medics warn of complacency

Government scientists said they have noticed that the virus typically results in a mild infection initially for patients with no underlying health conditions, which lasts about five days, but for the elderly or infirm, the pathogen enters a second phase thereafter, prompting an immune response that causes much of the damage that kills.

The experts’ hope is that the UK’s new plan will push the disease’s peak past the traditional end of the flu season in April and into the summer, when the country’s hospitals will be under less strain.

Our connected world made coronavirus spread. It may also be what saves us from it

But many prominent members of the medical community are unconvinced by the government’s approach. Doctors on the front line of intensive care units have warned about the potential lack of respirators, as seen in Italy and China when cases peaked there, and said that if staff become sick themselves, access to experienced labor could become a problem.

The editor-in-chief of the influential journal The Lancet criticized the UK’s response to the crisis. “To avoid an unmanageable catastrophe in the UK, we need to be honest about what seems likely to happen in coming weeks. We need urgent surge capacity in intensive care. The NHS is not prepared,” Richard Horton tweeted Thursday.

“I am not being alarmist. What is happening in Italy is real and taking place now. Our government is not preparing us for that reality. We need immediate and assertive social distancing and closure policies. We need to prepare the NHS. This is a serious plea.”

For a country that until fairly recently routinely imposed quarantines on family pets, it’s ironic that Johnson’s “island mentality” — made famous by his enthusiastic support for leaving the European Union — seems not to stretch to public health, for ministers dismissed the suggestion Britain could shut its borders as US President Donald Trump ordered this week.

‘He’s not doing a Trump’

Some scientists did offer words of support for the UK’s measures.

“I am the first to admit that I’m not Boris Johnson’s biggest fan. But I’m relatively impressed that unlike other political leaders, who’ve kind of bowed to the pressure of each other and their populations to implement school closures — which we don’t have enough evidence to know if it will make a difference or not — Johnson is listening to the current evidence that’s out there,” Dr. Clare Wenham, assistant professor of global health policy at the London School of Economics, told CNN.

“He’s not doing a Trump and shutting down borders, which we know will have no effect. He’s taking a rather measured approach now — but yes, it’s a gamble.”

Putin and Xi are using the coronavirus crisis to extend their control. Across the world, Trump struggles to keep up

Wenham added that she believed the government’s priority was to avoid panic, and ensure the public’s cooperation with prevention measures.

“It’s a political gamble if they get it wrong. If all the countries that implemented school closures and mass travel and mass gatherings see reductions in rates, and the rates in the UK are soaring — that’s a gamble,” she said.

“We know for example that shutting schools works for influenza because children are super-spreaders. We don’t know if that’s true for coronavirus yet. But I think the government is saying ‘look, we don’t yet know if kids are super-spreaders. So, why cause all the havoc of disrupting people’s lives?'”

Keith Neal, emeritus professor in the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, also said he backed moves to contain the outbreak.

“The plans are sensible, it is very easy to say more needs to be done, but there is little evidence to make any decision,” he told PA Media.

But former health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC that many people “will be surprised and concerned” by the lack of action in controlling movements. “I think it is surprising and concerning that we’re not doing any of it at all when we have just four weeks before we get to the stage that Italy is at.

“You would have thought that every single thing we do in that four weeks would be designed to slow the spread of people catching the virus.”

‘Spray, pay and pray’

Where the government has been more comfortable making decisive moves is on the economy.

New Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week put emergency funds on the table in his maiden budget — not just to shore up the UK’s National Health Service at a time of emergency, but also to shield small- to medium-sized businesses and the “gig economy,” replete with freelancers, from the effects of having staff off sick or working from home in isolation.

In a coordinated approach, the Bank of England also cut rates and announced stimulus.

The strategy was dubbed “Spray, pay and pray” by the Financial Times’ Lex column.

And therein lies the clue: Downing Street seems to think the panic caused by the new strain of the virus — or Covid-19 as it has become known — could be more dangerous in the long run than the actual illness itself.

Whether the gamble of “keeping calm and carrying on” in the face of the coronavirus is the appropriate approach, only time will tell.

Tara John contributed to this report.





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Read The White House Response To The Senate Impeachment Trial Summons : NPR


The White House released its formal response to the summons sent by the Senate last week, a procedural part of the impeachment process ahead of the trial that begins next Tuesday.

“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” the White House’s response says. “This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election.”

The White House response is part of the legal paperwork required in the process initiated Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The House impeachment managers filed Saturday their own “trial brief” on their arguments for the two articles of impeachment. The White House has until Monday to file its brief.

The House of Representatives voted last month to impeach President Trump for obstructing Congress and abuse of power. The process was linked to his phone call with his newly elected Ukrainian counterpart. Democrats say Trump sought an investigation into the Bidens in exchange for a release of frozen military aid and a White House visit. Trump has dismissed those allegations.

The Senate trial, where two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote to remove the president, begins Tuesday; Trump is almost certain to be acquitted.



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Cressida Dick applauds police for swift response to London Bridge terrorist


The Met’s commissioner says police confronted the suspect within five minutes (Picture: Getty/BBC)

The speed at which officers dealt with the London Bridge terror attacker has been praised by the Metropolitan Police’s top cop.

Cressida Dick made the remarks as she confirmed two victims lost their lives to the knifeman and that three others are being treated in hospital.

She condemned the ‘the empty ideology of terror’ and also thanked members of the public for showing ‘extraordinary courage’ by stepping in to help disarm the assailant.

At a press conference outside Scotland Yard this evening Ms Dick refused to comment on the identities of the fatalities or the condition of the injured parties.

Praising how officers handled the situation at Fishmonger’s Hall, she said: ‘My understanding is that police were called at 1358, two minute to 2 and city of London Police officers had bravely and professionally confronted the suspect at 1403, just five minutes later.’

She urged members of the public with video of the incident to come forward (Picture: Sky News)

She called on anyone with video footage of the incident to get in touch with authorities to help them with their investigation.

The commissioner added: ”I also want to thank the members of the public who have helped, either by showing extraordinary courage by stepping in to tackle this attacker or by following the instructions they have subsequently been given by officers at the scene and in the area.’

‘The empty ideology of terror offers nothing but hatred and today I urge everyone to reject that.

More: London

‘Ours is a great city because we embrace each other’s differences. We must emerge stronger still from this tragedy. In doing that we will ensure that the few who seek to divide us will never, ever succeed.’

‘We will be working as fast as we can to understand who this man is, where he comes from and whether there is anyone else who we need to find quickly who might be in touch with him.’

Earlier Ms Dick gave a briefing to Home Secretary Priti Patel and Boris Johnson, who is due to hold an emergency COBRA meeting this evening.

More: UK





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